May 15

“Emily’s Fifth Birthday” and “Alternative Medicine”

Dear Blog Friends,

As practice before I post my novel, I decided to post some of my short stories as singles. Like a vinyl single, mine are going to have an A side and a B side.

The A side of this is “Emily’s Fifth Birthday” a very literary science fiction short story I wrote at Clarion.  One of my teachers loved this story, and told me it would be perfect for Asimov’s.  Alas, Sheila Williams did not agree.  It was a semi-finalist in the Writers of the Future contest, and came very close to getting accepted at a prestigious science magazine, but I wasn’t really able to get much traction. It could be that it’s a little too literary for most science fiction venues, and a little too science fiction for literary venues.  I decided to stop submitting it, because I wanted a strong story to kick off my ‘singles’ line.

There’s a brand of children’s clothing that has as its motto, “If only they could stay little…”.  The final part of that is “…till their Carter’s wears out,” implying that Carter’s clothing is very durable.  When my babies were little, I saw only the first part of that on the onesie and shuddered.  Imagine if they never grew up. Wouldn’t that be awful?  But for some mothers, that wouldn’t be awful at all.  “Emily’s Fifth Birthday” is about a world in which parents can keep their children young as long as they want.

The B side of this is “Alternative Medicine” a dark and subtle science fiction story that presents a dystopian future in a banal and ordinary way.  The protagonist, Hannah, has an undiagnosable medical ailment that she’s desperate to find a cure for.  She’s even desperate enough to kill for it, sort of.  I got this accepted into a magazine “Alternative Coordinates” last year, but AC recently went under and my rights reverted, so I’m republishing it here.

I hope both of these stories give you something to think about. If you enjoy them, that will make me very happy.

Now available on Smashwords and Kindle.

Please enjoy,




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    • scamper on May 16, 2011 at 12:03 am

    BoingBoing sent me, but I’ll stay for this line: “She had arrested her age at twenty four, and planned to stay that young until she died.” You got me.

    • Anca on May 16, 2011 at 1:39 am

    Thank you for sharing your stories (no comments on them yet, as I just finished downloading 🙂 ). I can hardly wait to read them. Good luck!

    • Pattanapong T. on May 16, 2011 at 4:22 am


    I’ve read the 2 stories.

    There are a couple of missing words (I believe) in the 2nd one (“Alternative Medicine”).

    The 1st one is on pg 19 (ref. to html version), 3rd para. from bottom:
    The technician down… (missing something before down?)
    The 2nd one is on pg 20, 2nd para. from bottom:
    This story was inspired by going an alternative medicine practitioner… (missing something after going?)

    Thanks for the stories,

  1. Thank you for sharing these. I’ve discovered many wonderful new artists through their gracious sharing of their work. Best wishes for success!

    • A on May 16, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Send me an email when this is available on Kindle! Can’t wait to read it!

    • Kester on May 16, 2011 at 10:24 am


    • T. on May 16, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Thank you for sharing these stories! I also found your site via boingboing. Great stuff.

    • Brian Murtagh on May 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    A, just download the .mobi and send it to your Personal Documents Kindle address. No need to wait.

    Kater, thanks, I’ve just done the foregoing and look forward to reading them at lunch!

    • Lisa on May 17, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Came here via Boinboing.

    I just read both stories and really liked both of them. I wanted more of the story after “Emily’s Fifth Birthday”: what an interesting idea!

    In the online version that I read, there was just one mistake that I saw. Near the end of “Alternative Medicine” when Jake’s friend leans over to the receptionist, there is a word missing: “The technician [—] down and whispered something into the receptionist’s…”

    I wonder if “Alternative Medicine” would be more affecting if you hid the donor til just near the end, maybe have Hannah see the man sitting with his mother just as she was being covered with a white sheet.

    Anyway, lovely stories.

    • Kater on May 17, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for the edit. I’ll see if I can fix that.


    • Lindsey Goddard on May 25, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    I just finished “Emily’s Fifth Birthday” and I must say… wow. The way you painted an uncomfortable tension between two groups of people with opposing views, it made the situation seem so real. I can almost see a CNN political debate on the topic! lol. As a mother, this story was especially chilling. It’s hard enough to make the right decisions. Imagine having this one to boot! I will post my thoughts on the second story shortly. Real life children are calling. 🙂

    • Lindsey Goddard on May 25, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    “Alternative Medicine” presents yet another moral dilemma that I would HATE to face! You certainly view the world with a mind full of possibilities. I love that! As much as I love reading horror, the protagonists in that genre are often faced with very obvious decisions: run from the bad guy, don’t take that path, heed the know-it-all’s advice. Your characters are thrust into situations with very complex issues. Bravo. I enjoy it very much.

    • Kater on May 30, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Thanks, Lindsey! I’m glad you enjoyed the stories.

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